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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Kentucky topples A&M in rowdy Reed

Fifth+year+guard+Quenton+Jackson+%283%29+jumps+to+dunk+on+the+Kentucky+basket+in+Reed+Arena+on+Wednesday+Jan.+19%2C+2022.
Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Fifth year guard Quenton Jackson (3) jumps to dunk on the Kentucky basket in Reed Arena on Wednesday Jan. 19, 2022.

A record-high 14,036 fans packed Reed Arena, flooding the air waves with chants and cheers. The stadium erupted with noise as sophomore guard Marcus Williams opened the game with a jump-shot for an early Texas A&M lead.
Yet, Reed’s rocking was not enough for A&M to grab its first ranked win of the season, as the No. 12 Kentucky Wildcats snapped the Aggies’ eight-game win streak with a 64-58 victory for the visitor on Wednesday, Jan. 19.
“Credit to the 12th Man, I thank everyone who came out to the game,” sophomore forward Henry Coleman III said. “Sorry it wasn’t the outcome they wished for or we wished for … but it was an unbelievable environment especially going down the stretch.”
A&M took to the court with a scrappy and intense energy leading to an initial 2-0 lead, one it didn’t let go of for over 30 minutes of game time.
Williams and junior guard Tyrece Radford exchanged buckets with Kentucky until Coleman went on a solo 5-point run for the Aggies, including an and-1 layup over Kentucky’s freshman guard Daimion Collins. Accompanied by a Radford free throw, A&M was up 12-6 seven and a half minutes in.
“Considering we’re [nationally ranked low in terms of] experience on our team, I thought we played with great maturity from the very beginning,” A&M coach Buzz Williams said.
The back-and-forth affair continued until a quartet of Aggies scored, composing a 9-point run and a 13-point A&M lead. Kentucky’s junior forward Oscar Tshiebwe and junior guard Sahvir Wheeler orchestrated their own 5-point run a few minutes later, tightening A&M’s lead to eight.
A&M entered the halftime break with a narrow 35-30 lead against the Wildcats. Both Coleman and Wheeler had a team-high nine first-half points for their teams, with Wheeler being the lone Kentucky athlete to shoot over 50% in the opening period.
Bench depth made an early difference for the Aggies. A&M’s bench output nearly doubled Kentucky’s, outscoring the Wildcats 17 to nine in the first half.
Kentucky emerged from the away locker room hot, quickly tying the game at 35 apiece, but the Aggies fought back to regain another five-point lead. Outside of the early 5-point run, no team scored more than four consecutive points as runs became scarce.
A masterful alley-oop pass in transition from freshman guard Wade Taylor IV to Coleman energized the crowd and the Aggies, but didn’t stop Kentucky from earning its first lead of the game with a second-chance layup by graduate guard Kellan Grady with nine minutes remaining.
Both teams swapped leads for the next few minutes, but A&M’s poor 3-point and free throw shooting performances eventually caught up to them. The Wildcats led the rest of the way with A&M attempting a last-second comeback that fell six points short.
“The whole game, we were already thinking about Oscar [Tshiebwe] the whole entire time,” junior guard Aaron Cash said. “We had to take him out first, and it helped lessen the pain.”
Despite a well-executed game plan to minimize Tshiebwe in the second half, the Wildcat’s leading scorer and the nation’s leading rebounder, the Aggies shot 10-for-34 from the field and zero-for-14 from the arc in the closing half. Despite leading the SEC in 3-point shooting percentage entering the game, A&M shot just 4.5% from range.
Coleman, the leading scorer for the Aggies during SEC play, continued his hot streak scoring a game-high 17 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Cash showed flashes off the bench; he played a season-high 26 minutes, narrowly missing out on his second double-double of the season with eight points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
Wheeler was the only player for Kentucky to finish the game to hit more shots than he missed, but a team effort was enough to surmount the Aggies in College Station.
“I’ve never participated in any of that sort of discussion [regarding quality losses],” coach Williams said. “I just think when you’re doing this all the time, every day other than when you sleep, you’re just trying to fight to find ways to improve the next day … I think part of the reason we have done well is: our guys are showing maturity in how we practice.
“I didn’t think we played bad, but I didn’t think necessarily that on all of our priorities we were as good as we could be.”
The Aggies fell to 15-3, 4-1 in conference, suffering their first conference loss of the year. Kentucky rises to 15-3, improving to 5-1 against SEC opponents.
Next time out, the Aggies will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., to face off with the Razorbacks at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 22.

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